Universities prepare to fight for students in record clearing

The Times is reporting on predictions that this years clearing round will be the most competitive ever with prospective students likely to be inundated with offers.

The paper explains that what it calls a ‘demographic blip’ means 4,000 more 18-year-olds than normal have applied to university this year (they attribute this to a brief rise in birthrate in 1995 over a contraceptive pill health warning). Because restrictions on university student numbers have been lifted and the applicant pool is forecast to decline for the next five or six years, this is therefore seen as a last opportunity for many universities to expand.

The paper suggests this will result in numerous freebies (e.g. iPads, scholarships, fee discounts etc) being offered to teenagers who have failed to achieved their predicted grades and reports warnings of these impacting on decisions.

The chief executive of Ucas, Mary Curnock Cook, is quoted:

“It is a big decision and shouldn’t be trivialised. Swapping and changing to chase a minor incentive like an iPad is clearly not likely to be a good idea. It is a very big decision and don’t be distracted by the variety of offers.”

It also reports that more than 100,000 applicants have opted for a new Ucas service where their grades will be shared with other universities if they don’t get their preferred choice. This will be the first time that universities have been able to approach prospective students directly and the Times reports that Ucas expects 20,000 will be eligible to get places in this way.

On this new system Ms Curnock Cook is quoted:

“It is a brilliant innovation because it is likely to put applicants in touch with courses they might never have thought of.”

More at: Universities prepare to fight for students in record clearing (subscription may be required)


Do you share Mary Curnock Cook’s concerns over the impact of incentives on the choices young people will be making? 

And what do you make of this new service from Ucas (which seems to have no name other than ‘New service for Clearning’)? Does it sound like a more sensible approach?

Please give us your feedback in the comments or via Twitter…


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